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to b garnered that can be used to analyze trends and tactics. there are also hazards, and that is where the fusion centers protect the public health. when we had h1n1, we employ the fusion centers to get out information about vaccines and vaccine availability and the like. different vision centers have different relationships with the private seor. your utility segment, water and so forth. as we look at fusion centers around the country, that is a relationship and the capacity that we are encouraging. that is part of the guidance we are giving and something we look for when we travel. there are now 72 fusion centers.
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>> in terms of the recent attacks to our critical infrastructure abroad and here, what do you see as the role of engaging private-sector with street level, real time information sharing? >> one of theritical issues is how do you make information available in real time? there are structures in place that did that, but one of the challenges is to turn that around quickly and make sure information gets out. a lot of that could be done on- line, but one of the obstacles has been the clearance process. the biggest complaint have heard since i have left, in terms of people in the private sector sing they cannot get access to information are some
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of the arcane requirements about getting clearance and who has to hold clarence and what you have to do to maintain clearance. simplifying the process i think would go some distance to making information available more quickly. >> i think we are just about out of time. that will have to be the last question. i want to thank the aspen institute's and georgetown. the conversation will continue. please make sure you show up for my show this afternoon. [laughter] the aspen security forum is going to have its july program in aspen, july 27-30.
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the aspen institute will contin and even deeper conversation about this. they too are members of congress -- thanks to our members of congress. i neglected to introduce our german ambassador, but thanks to all for participating in a very lively conversation. [applause] >> in a few moments, a press conference with president obama.
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then the cato institute forum on the new health care law. >> on television, on radio, an online -- c-span bringing public affairs t. created by cable, it is washington your way. >> on "washington j j j jou our guests include representative chris van hollen. congress passed a short-term spending bill last week that under the government through april 8. the former attorney general scott pruitt will take calls on settlements on for closure of you -- foreclosure abuses. he opposes it. and we will talk with the coast guard assistant commandant for marine safety. live on c-span every day at 7:00
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a.m. eastern. >> the c-span networks -- providing coverage of politics, public affairs, nonfiction books, and american history. it is all available to you on television, radio, online, and on social media networking sites. view our content anytime at the c-span video library. we take you on the road with our digital content vehicle. it is washington your way. the c-span networks -- now available in more than 100 million homes, created by cable, provided as a public service. >> president obama is sent chile today. his news conference with president pinera is 45 minutes. ce is 45 minutes. >> first of all i want to extend my greetings to the
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people of chile. i am so grateful for not only the generous words but also the outstanding hospitality been shown to me as well as my family. i want to begin today by noting that the president and i discussed some urgent events unfolding around the world. together with our partners, the united states is taking military action to enforce the un security council resolution 1973 and protect the libyan people. across the region, we believe that legitimate aspirations of people must be met and that violence against civilians is not the answer. across the pacific, both chile and the united states are supporting the japanese people as they recover from the catastrophic earquake and tsunami and address the situation at their damaged nuclear facility. these events remind us that in our interconnected world, the
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security and prosperity of nations and peoples are intertwined as never before. no region is more closely linked then the united states and latin america. here in the americas, one of our closest and strong as partners is chile. chile is one of the great success stories of this region. it has built a robust democracy. it has been one of the most open and fastest growing economies in the world. the spirit and resilience of the chilean people, especially after last year's earthquake, have inspired people across the globe. in my speech this afternoon, i look forward to paying tribute to chile progress. i was prd to welcome the president to washington last year for our nuclear security
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summit. mr. president, i want to commend you on your decisive leadership in these first few months of office. a time that has been obviously very difficult and has tested the people of chile. i want to thank you for the focus and energy that you have brought to the partnership between our two countries, which we have strengthened today. we are moving ahead with efforts to expand trade and investment, as the president mentioned, and our existing trade agreement, trade has more than doubled, creating new jobs and opportunities in both our countries. we believe there is alwa more we can do to expand our economic cooperation. today we recommit ourselves to fully implement our free trade agreement to include protection of intellectual properties or businesses can innovate and stay competitive. we agreed to build on the progress we are making towards a trans-pacific partnership, so
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we can see the full potential of trade in the asia-pacific, especially for small and medium businesses. it is my hope that along with our other partners, we can reach an agreement on the frame work of the end of this year. an agreement that can serve as a model for the 21st century. we are expanding and clean energy partnerships that are key to creating green jobs and addressing climate change, which is evident in the glacier melt in this region. chile is already sharing its expeise with solar in the region. i want to commend the president for agreeing to take another step, hosting a new center to address e glacier melt in the andes. in addition, a new u.s.-chile business council will encourage coaboration between our countries and areas like energy efficiency and renewable technologies.
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our governments have agreed to share our experience in dealing with natural disasters, area where chile has enormous expertise which is critical to recovery and economic reconstruction. we discussed our shared commitment to expanding education exchanges among our students. we can learn from each other and bring our country even closer together. in my speech i will announce an ambitious new initiative to increase student exchanges between the u.s. and latin america, including chile. even as we deepen cooperation between our two countries, i want to take this opportunity to commend chile for the leadership role is increasingly playing across the americas. chile is a vital contributor to the un mission in haiti, where we agreed that yesterday's election is an opportunity to enhance recovery efforts. strong legislation will fight the scourge of human trafficking.
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mr. president, i want to thank you for offering to share chile security expertise with central american nations as they fight back against criminal gangs and narco traffickers. governments will be working together to promote development in the americas. at the same time, but chile is assuming more of a leadership role beyond the americas. ile took the bold step of giving up its stockpile of highly enriched uranium. chile is the first let american nation to join a new international effort to strengthen civil society groups that are under threat. as a member of the u.n. human rights council, chile has joined with us in standing up against human rights abuses in iran and libya. in short, mr. president, today we have proven again that when we work together in the spirit of mutual interests and mutual respect, it is not only good for the peoples of our nations, i believe it is good for the
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region and for the world. i am confident that our partnership will only grow stronger in the years to come, and i am very much grateful for the wonderful hospitality you are showing me and my delegation. thank you very much. [applause] >> now we will proceed to the questions from the media. we remind you that only three questions will be allowed, and they have been decided on. one from chile, one from international. on behalf of thessociation of journalists, good afternoon. obama, you have emphasized and highlighted the economic management of the leadership in
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the region. those were your rds, and even that successful transition into democracy -- in chile, there are some open wounds of the dictatorship of general pinochet. the son of the murdered foreign minister have said that many of those wounds have to do th the united states. in the new speech that you will announce, the include that the u.s. is willing to collaborate with those judicial investigations, even at the u.s. is willing to ask for forgiveness for what it did in those very difficult years?
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>> any requests that are made by chile to obtain more information about the past is something that we will certainly consider and we would like to cooperate. i think it is very important for all of us to know our history, and obviously the history of relations betwe the united states and latin america have at times been extremely rocky and have at times been diffict. i think it is important, though, for us, even as we understand our history and a clarity about our history, that we are not tracked by our history. the fact of the matter is that over the last two decades, we have seen extraordinary progress here in chile, and that has not been impeded by the united
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states, but in fact has been fully supported by the united states. how i can not speak to all the policies of the past, but i can speak to the policies of the present and future. our firm commitment to decracy and to eradicating poverty, our full commitment to broadbased and socially inclusive development, our full support of the robust, open markets that have developed here in chile, the work that has been done in order to transform the economic situation here -- those are all things the united states strongly supports. again, it is important for us to learn from our history, to understand it, but not be trapped by it, because we have a lot of challenges now, and
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even more importantly, we have challenges in the fure that we have to attend to. >> how do you square your position that colonel gaddafi has lost legitimacy and must go against a limited objective of his campaign, if colonel gaddafi is killing his own people, is it permissibleo let him stay in power? and if i may add, the you have any regrets about undertaking this mission while you are on foreign soil, and do you have the support of the arab people in this yet? >> first of all, i am going to
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embarrassed him by letting everyone know that his mother is chilean, so this is a little bit of a homecoming. you don't need to take jim's example by asking three questions, pretending it is one. [laughter] >> one subject. >> first of all, i think is very easy to square our military action and our stated policies. our military action is in support of an international mandate from the secury council that specifically focuses on the humanitarian threat proposed by colonel gaddafi to his people.
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not only was he carrying out murders of civilians, but he threatened more. he said very specifically, we will show no mercy to people who live in benghazi. the international community said we have to stop any additional atrocities inside of libya. as part of the international coalition, i authorized the u.s. military to work with our international partners to fulfill that mandate. i also have stated that it is u.s. policy that gaddafi needs to go. we have a wide range of tools in addition to our military efforts to support that policy. we were very rapid in
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initiating unilateral sanctions and then helping to mobilize international sanctions against the gaddafi regime. we froze assets that he might have used to further empower himself and purchase weapons or hire mercenaries that might be directed against the libyan people. there are a whole range of policies that we are putting in place that has created one of the most powerful international consensuses around the isolation of mr gaddafi, and we will continue to pursue those. when it comes to military action, we are doing so in support of un security resolution 1973. it's specifically talks about humanitarian eorts, and we are going to make sure that we stick to that mandate. it is also important, since we are on the topic, that i have consistently emphasizedhat
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because we are working with international partners, after the initial thrust that has disabled gadhafi's air defenses, limits his ability to threaten large populations like benghazi. there will be a transition taking place and we are one of the partners among many who will insure that the no-fly zone is enforced and that the humanitarian protection that needs to be provided continues to be in place. with respect to initiating this action while i was a broad, keep in mind that we are working on a very short timeframe.
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we had done all the worknd it was just a matter of seeing how gaddafi would react to the warning that was issued on friday. despite words to the contrary, he was continuing to act aggressively toward civilians. after consultation with our allies, we decided to move forward, and it was a matter of me directing secretary of defense gates and admiral mullen that the plan that had been developed in great detail extensively prior to my departure was put into place. i have forgotten if there were any other elements of that question, but i tried to be as thorough as possible. the arab league specifically called for a no-fly zone before we went to the united nations, and that was an important element in this overall campaign.
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we are in consultations as we speak. there are different phases to the campaign. the initial campaign, we took a larger role because we have unique capabilities. our ability for example to take out gadhafi's air defenses are more significant than some of our other partners. it shakes the environment in which the no-fly zone could actually be effected. it was important that we got in there quickly so that whatever advances were being made on benghazi could be helpful, to send a clear message that he needed to start pulling his troops back. keep in mind we have only been in this process for two days now. we are continuing to evaluate the situation on the ground. the pentagon and our defense department will be briefing you extensively as this proceeds, but the core principle that has
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to be upheld here is that when the entire international community, almost unanimously, says that there is a potential humanitarian crisis about to take place, that a leader who had lost legitimacy decided to turn his military on his own people, that we cannot simply stand by with empty words. we have to take some sort of action. i think it is also important to note that the way that the u.s. took leadership and managed this process ensures international legitimacy and ensures that members of the international coalition are bearing the burden of following through on the mission as well. as you know, in the past there have been times where the united states acted unilaterally or did not have full
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international support, and as a consequence, it was the u.s. military that ended up bearing the entire burden. i could not be prouder of the manner in which the u.s. military has performed over the last several days. it is a testament to the men and women in uniform who when they are given a mission, they execute and do an outstanding job. but obviously our military is already very stretched and carries large burdens all around the world. whenever possible for us to be able to get international cooperation, not just in terms of words but in terms of planes, pilots, and resources, that is something we should actively seek an embrace, because it relieves the burden on our military and relieves the burden on u.s. taxpayers to fulfill an international mission and not just simply a u.s. mission.
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>> i would like you to answer to the response that the president gave regarding the wounds that still linger in this country and the needs of some of the people in this country for an apology from the united states, and certainly for any assistance in any investigations that are ongoing here. >> 4 years ago, we had a long and profound conversation with president obama. i can tell you that chile, our government and this predent's firmly believes that the self- determination of peoples and
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firmly believes in the rule of law and respect for human rights. for that reason, when we had evidence that there could have been a homicide, our governments submitted a complaint and is collaborating to investigate those responsible for the death of the former president. once the judiciary undertake those responsibilities, they will have to assume the penalties and punishment according to a rule of law. inn't have the same basis the other case, but if we had them, we would act the same way. i would ke to say finally that today, the subject of democracy, of human rights, has no borders, does not recognize
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any border, and that is progress of this 21st century civilization. that is why chile supports the initiative of the united nations to the security council, nato, and the arab league, to do carnage and killing of civilians in libya. that is the responsibility of the international community, because as i said a while ago, human rights do not and should not respect borders. the responsibility is of all of us in each and every place of the worl whatever the circumstances involved who violate human rights. in my view, the person who has bombarded his own people does not deserve to keep on being the ruler of that people.
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[unintelligible] you did not mention the international press. >> are you a lawyer or journalists? [laughter] >> on libya, when you said that you will b transferring command, when are you thinking about transferring command, an would nato be the preferred department to take over that command? you have said that you want an alliance among equals with the peoples of the americas. what deliverables would you go far after this? [speaking spanish]
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>> with respect to libya, obviously the situation is evolving on the ground, and how quickly the transfer takes place will be determined by the recommendations of our commanding officers, that the first phase of the mission has been completed. as i said, our initial focus is taking out libn air defenses so that a no-fly zone can operate effectively and aircraft and pilots of the coalition are not threatened when they are maintaining the no-fly zone. the second aspect of this is making sure that the humanitarian aspects of the mission can be met. but let me emphasize that we anticipate this transition to
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take place in a matter of days and not a matter of weeks. so i would expect that over the next several days, we will have more information and the pentagon will be fully briefing the american people as well as the press on that issue. nato will be involved in a coordinating function because of the extraordinary capacity of that alliance. but i will leave it to admiral mullen and those who are directly involved in the operation to describe to you how exactly that transfer might take place. with respect to this partnership, i do not want to give you all my best lines from my speech. otherwise, no one will come.
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the thing i'm most excited about is the fact that in a country like chile, it is not as matter the weekend give to -- we can give to chile, it is about what chile can offer us. weet up a clean energy partnership. we think we're doing terrific work on alternative energy sources. there may be initiatives taking place here that might be transferable to the united states. on education, obviously, we have a long history of public education and universities are second to no. but we want to make sure that in this increasingly integrated world, american students are not just looking inward. we're looking at words. the idea of us sting up a
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broad base exchange program makes an enormous difference. security cooperation, the plight of traffickers in the region is something that we are all too familiar with. we have the example of columbia -- colombia, that has made great strides. what lessons can we take and apply them to smaller countries in central america, for example, beer going to do the same structure? to work in concert to help to train effective security operations in central ameri to do would narco traffickers. it is the kind of collaboration
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that would n be as effective if the united states for operating on its own. i think across the spectrum of issues that we care about, what will characterize this new partnership is the fact that it is a two-way street this is not a situation where a highly developed country is helping a poor and impoverished country. this is a situation where an up- and-coming regional power is now collaborating with us to hope greater peace and prosperity for the region.
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>> the integration of the americas, we are lagging behind. the best way to illustrate this is to compare what has happened in ameri with what happened in europe. last century, the europeans had two world wars. at some point, and they h the wisdom to abandon the rationale and tombrace the treaty with the leadership of such renown 20 years ago, president bush's father raise the idea it never came to
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materialize. the time is right because latin america has been -- we are of age in now. we need to fulfill oumission. we want to recover the lost time and tap all of its potential. we have lots of things in common with the u.s., and generous territory, hard-working people. we do not have racial problems. latin america is called a
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commitment with its own fate. we are looking forward to president obama as word. we have many coincidences that we studied. we studied at harvard, but the bus. we have many coincidences. we are both sportsmen. president obama continues to be a basketball player. i was in my time as well. i think the first lady of the u.s. is very good-looking, and president obama has said the same about the first lady of chile. there are plenty of coincidences, but the most important one is the one we will find this afternoon. we hope to have a partnership where we have all our existentialist alliance, a partnership of claboration between latin america and the
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united states, sharing values, principles, and a common vision. that alliance should be comprehensive. it should reach out to the fields of mocracy, freedom, rule of law, defense of human rights. we have to improve the democratic charter. it should also open up the doors to the free trade of goods and services, and faster than what we have done hitherto. in addition to that, to include those subject that or the troop pillars of the 21st century, quality of education, science, technology, education. they are the pillars for latin america so as to leave poverty behind. we have so much to learn from a country like the united states. in its 230 years of independent life it has given true evidence
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-- in its 230 years of independence life it has made a large contribution to the progress of mankind. latin america and the united states have a lot to gain from this alliance. we have to reach out to two of the most important challenges of this century, energy and water. if global warming keeps on going, it could be the most scarce resource of our century. also facg the major problems of modern society that cannot be faced unilaterally. organized crime, terrorism, drug trafficking, global rming. the savage of world security can no longer be faced individually. we need to work together. [unintelligible]
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to be appropriate and adapted to the needs and challenges of the 21st century, were the only constant thing we have is ange. so the time is right to recover all that lost time, and the time is here so that finally this relationship, let us initiate a new era of collaboration, effectively, concretely, that we tru face and solve the major problems that will also open up the doors to opportunities. the society of knowledge and information is knocking on our door.
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we cannot be late in this tremendous revolution which is so much deeper, that of knowledge and information. it has been very generous with the countries that want to embrace it, but very cool with those countries that do not have it. no child should be left behind, and here we say in latin america, no country should be left behind. thank you. [speaking spanish] >> in a few moments the nuclear regulatory commission here's a report on the japanese plant damaged by an earthquake and tsunami.
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in a cato forum on the health care law. and then president obama speech in chile. a couple of live events to tell you about tomorrow morning. the group america's promise a lance held a discussion to improve high school graduation rates. speakers include joe biden and jeb bush. that is on c-span2 at 7:30 a.m. eastern. then it up panel discussion on how small businesses can access capital. speakers include timothy geithner. >> the c-span video library is even more valuable for following congress. committee hearings are being
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gathered into one place. find out more. read our video library blog and watch what you want when you won. >> beginning april 1 in about a month, we will feature the top winners of this year's studentcam competition. nearly 1500 students submitted documentary's on the famed "washington, d.c. through mine lenses," focusing on a topic that help them better understand the federal government. meet the students that created them. stream the winning videos online at >> the nuclear regulatory commission heard a report today that the japanese nuclear plant damaged by the earthquake and some mammy is close to being stabilized and that no adverse health affects are expected from any radiation leaks. this is an hour-and-a-half.
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>> good morning, everyone. people across the country and around the world who have been talked -- touched by the magnitude until this disaster are closely following the events in japan and the repercussions in this country and in many other countries. before we begin, i would like to offer my sincere condolences to all of those who have been affected by the earthquake and the tsunami in japan. our hearts go out to all lead in dealing with the aftermath of these natural disasters. we are mindful of a long and difficult road they will face in recovering. we know the people of japan are
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resilience and strong and we have every confidence that they will come through this difficult time and move forward with resolved to rebuild their vibrant country. i believe i speak for all americans when i say that we stand together with the people of japan at this most difficult and challenging time. the nrc is a relatively small agency. we play a critical role in protecting american people and the environment when it comes to the use of nuclear materials. we have our inspectors to work full time as every nuclear plant in the country and we are proud to have world top scientists, engineers, and professionals representing every discipline. since friday, march 11, when the earthquake in tsunami struck, the headquarters operations center has been operating on a 24-hour basis to monitor and analyze events at nuclear power plants in japan. at the request of the japanese
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government, and through the united states agency for international development, the nrc sent a team of technical experts to provide the on the ground support and the of been in continual contact with them since they deployed. within the united states, but the nrc has been working closely with other federal agencies as part of the u.s. government's response to the situation. in the united states, we have an obligation to the american people to undertake a systematic and methodical review of the safety of around domestic nuclear facilities. beginning to examine all of the available information is an essential part of our ability to analyze the event. our focus will always be on keeping plants and radioactive materials safe and secure. as the immediate crisis in japan comes to an end, we will look at any information we can to gain
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experience from the event, and to see if there are changes we need to make to further protect public health and safety. together, will review the current status and identify the steps we will take to conduct the review. in the meantime, we will continue to oversee and monitor plans to ensure that reactors remain safe. on behalf of the commission, i want to thank all of our staff for maintaining their focus on are essential safety and security mission do well these difficult days. i want to acknowledge their tireless efforts and their critical contribution. in spite of the evolving situation, the long hours and the intensity of effort of the past week, the staff has approached their responsibilities the dedication, determination, and professionalism. we are all incredibly proud of their efforts. the american people can also be proud of the commitment and dedication of the federal work force, which is exemplified by our staff every day.
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i want to reiterate on behalf of the commission and all of us here in this room, our sympathy with the crisis and the difficult situation to where friends and colleagues in japan. we look forward to continuing our efforts to provide them with assistance as they continue to deal with a very challenging situation not only with the nuclear facilities, but with many of the other impacts on this natural disaster. i would like to offer an opportunity to make some comments. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to add my voice with others regarding great sympathy over that -- that we feel. the dramatic images of the events at the issue among -- have an added dimension for us as a community of nuclear safety professionals. for us, these images are not an abstraction great many of us have traveled to deadpanned.
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give toward the facilities of our japanese colleagues. we'll work alongside them. the sense of anguish we field as we desire so desperately to do something to help our friends and colleagues has been so clearly evident on the faces of the men and women working here. we are heartsick over this tragedy. summit characterized that our faith in this technology is shaking. but nuclear safety has not been and cannot be a matter of faith. it has to be a matter of fact. today, we continue the systematic evaluation of fact. in taking the systematic and deliberate
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achieve this objective. thank you. >> i joined the chairman and commissioner of expressing my condolences to the people of japan and also second the chairman's comments on commending the staff for its response to this accident. >> thank you, chairman. this is a very personal tragedy. i have heard from friends in tokyo worried about radiation. a lot of uncertainty about what will happen next. i have one friend who lost all for utilities for several days and is still waiting for water
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to be restored. in the aftermath, she is making new friends as people bond together to help each other and to comfort each other and make the best of the difficult situation. fortunately, she found a neighbor that has a well. she has been able to get water. i am sure there are thousands of examples of people who are reaching out to each other, bonding and the community. the scale of the tragedy is staggering, but japan will recover. japan will not stand alone. it has not stood alone. we in the u.s. are close friends with japanese people and i'm very proud of how our country has responded to this crisis and proud of how the nuclear regulatory commission staff has responded. the staff has demonstrated expertise and selflessness of the last 10 days. i applaud their outstanding efforts. the commission will receive an
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update on the nuclear situation in japan. there will be important lessons learned from the fukushima plant. this meeting of the first of many as we engage to understand the issues and address those issues to ensure the safety of u.s. nuclear power plants. i look forward to working with my partners on the commission to do so. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. this is an important meeting. i want to join my colleagues and sending my personal sympathies to the people of japan. the consequences and loss of life are devastating. our thoughts and prayers are with all. i would like to commend the chairman, the executive director of operations, and our staff for their efforts in supporting the
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inner sea monitoring assistance associated with these events. -- in our sea of mud train assistant associate with these events. -- nrc. i've been very impressed with the technical competence and professionalism demonstrated by the staff. i am also grateful for the team dispatched to japan. will dismayed by this tragedy, i am also extraordinarily proud of the commitment and rationalism of our team. the events have unfolded over the last 11 days a startling. on one hand, i believe that our existing licensing and never said activities assure us that our commercial power plants are safe. on the other hand, i know that we must conduct an examination
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of nrc's regulatory framework. as we head down this path together, i know this commission will stay mindful of the challenges that face us. in the last week, i fully support his call for a systematic and methodical review. we must also do this in a way that clearly communicates to the american people what this review means and what it implies for the sake of our existing nuclear power plants. thank you. >> with that, we will turn it to the executive director of operations. >> thank you. good morning. i would like to join in your expressions of condolences to the people of japan.
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years of very close and personal interaction with a regulatory counterparts and we would like to extend our condolences to them. we are mindful of our primary responsibility to ensure the public health and safety of the american people. we have been very closely monitoring the activities in japan. we have been reviewing all available information to allow us to conclude that the u.s. plants continue to mock -- operate safely. there has been no reduction in the licensing or oversight function of the nrc as it relates to the u.s. licensees. contributors to the conclusion that the current fleet of reactors and materials continue to protect the public health and safety are based on a number of principles, including the fact
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that every reactor in this country is designed for natural events based upon the specific site that riyadh -- the reactor is located. there are multiple vision product barriers and a wide range of diverse and redundant safety features in order to provide public health and safety assurance. we have a lot regulatory history of conservative decision making. we have been intelligently using risc insights to help inform our regulatory process. we have never stopped to make improvements to the plant design as we learned from operating experience over the more than 35 years of civilian nuclear power in this country. some have been derived from lessons learned from previous significant events, such as three mile island. we have severe accident management guidelines,
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provisions to the emergency operating procedures, procedures and process is for dealing with large fires and explosions at regardless of the cause. we have a station blackout rule. we have a hydrogen rule for reactors and many others, which i will go into later. all of these relate in one way or another to the tragic events in japan. in addition to all that we have done, over the many years, the industry is also performing many verification activities at this time to verify that all of these prophecies and procedures and rules that have been implemented are still available -- still valid. from a very high level, the response center from the operations center here in
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rockville, as well as the team that is in japan. it focuses on three major areas. the first is the support to -- support the japanese government and our regulatory counterpart. to gather information and a sense that information for implications on the u.s. facilities. the third is to support the u.s. ambassador in japan with the level of nuclear expertise. we are mobilized to support the u.s. government in responding to this event. notwithstanding, we continued to maintain our focus on our domestic responsibilities. we do not expect the releases of radioactive material to have any affect on the health and
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safety of the u.s. population. the next slide shows the agenda for this meeting. given the time constraints, it will be relatively high overview of activities. the room has been held a number of staff better available to explore any questions and answers that he might have later. -- that you might have later. i would move to a brief overview of the events. on friday, march 11, an earthquake hit japan, resulting in the shutdown of more than 10 reactors. to our understanding, the reactors' response to the earthquake went according to design. there is no known problems to our knowledge with the response of that event. the ensuing tsunami, however, caused a loss of emergency ac
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power to six units of the fukushima site. it is those six units that have received the majority of attention since that time. units one, too, and three were in operation at the time. units 4, 5, 6 were in a previously scheduled outages. immediately, after the tsunami, it appeared that there was no injection capability into the reactor vessels on units 1, 2, 3. on saturday, march 12, the hydrogen explosion occurred in a one, and the following monday, march 40, hydrogen explosion in unit 3 -- march 14. on the 15th of march, there were explosions in unit two and unit 4.
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at this time, it is our assessment that is likely that unit's one, too, and three have experienced some kind of cord damage. today, -- core damage. today, all three units appear to be stable. containment integrity, for all three units is also believed to have been maintained. some great smoke is limited from unit 3. the source of that smoke is a non. -- on known -- unkonwn. on a sign of some promising has been yet -- has been able to bring some power on to the site.
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it is of the border of units 1 and 2. there is early indication that there may be cabling problems within the units, so i understand that they are now in the process of laying some temporary cables to some of the pumps and valves inside of units 1 and 2. over the next day or two, they will be doing the same thing for units three and four. there are two diesel generators that are currently running and supplying power to units 5 and 6. moving to the nrc response, shortly after 4:00 in the morning on friday, march 11, the operation center made the first call informing management of the earthquake and the potential impact. we went to the monitoring the mood at the operations center and the first concern for the
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nrc was a possible impact of the tsunami on u.s. plans on the west coast. on that same day, friday, march 11, we dispatched to experts to japan to help at the embassy and again interactions with our japanese regulatory counterparts. by monday, we had dispatched a total of 11 staff to japan. the areas of focus is the support the japanese government and respond to requests from our regulatory counterparts. to support the u.s. ambassador and his understanding of the regulation -- of the nuclear impact of this event. third, to help the information flow from japan to the u.s. nrc to assess the implications on the u.s. fleet in as timely a manner as possible. we have had an extensive range of stakeholders that we have had
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constant interaction with ranging from the white house congressional staff, our state regulatory counterparts, it wide range of other federal agencies, and the international regulatory bodies around the world. our ongoing response is that the nrc operations center remains in the 24/7 posture. this has involved the efforts of robert 20050 -- over 250 staff. to help maintain an information
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float on the current operating reactors in this country. the agency is coordinating the response to this event. we can provide the assistance in japan and not miss any of our normal activities regarding domestic responsibilities. in addition, we remain aware of u.s. industry efforts to provide assistance with their counterparts. the u.s. government has an extensive network of radiation monitors across the country. epa systems has not identified any radiation levels of concern in this country. natural background from things like rocks, building, that is 100,000 times more than any level that has been detected to date. we feel confident in our
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conclusion that there is no reason for concern in the united states regarding radioactive releases from japan. i would like to focus for a few more minutes on the factors that go into assuring us that domestic reactors' safety. we have since the beginning of the regulatory program and the united states, used the philosophy of defense. it recognized that the nuclear industry requires the highest standard of design, construction, oversight, and operation. even with that, we will not rely on any one level of protection for the entire purposes of protecting public health and safety. the designs for every single reactor in this country take into account the specific site
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and does a detailed evaluation for any natural event, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, tsunami, and many others. in addition, there are multiple physical barriers. in addition to that, there are about to burst and redundant safety systems that are required to be maintained operable and frequently tested by nrc regulation. we have taken advantage of the lessons learned from previous operating experience. when of the most significant in this country, of course, being three mile island. as a result of those lessons learned, we significantly revised the emergency planning, the emergency operating
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procedures. many human issues as it relates to allow control room operators operate the plants. we added the requirements for hydrogen control to help prevent explosions. we also created requirements for enhanced indication of pumps and valves. we have opposed accident sampling system that requires -- that allows for the monitoring of radioactive material released and possible fuel degradation. of course, one of the most significant changes after three mile island, we created the resident inspector program, which has the least two full- time inspectors on site but have unfettered access to all licensee activities, 24 debt -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week. as a result of operating experience and ongoing research programs, we have developed
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requirements for severe accident management guidelines. these are programs that perform a what it scenario. what of all this careful design work, these important procedures and practices and instrumentation, which if that fails? what procedures and policies and equipment should be in place to deal with the extremely unlikely scenario of a severe accident? those have been in effect for many years and are frequently evaluated by the nrc inspection program. as a result of the events of september 11, 2001, we did a similar evaluation and identified important pieces of equipment that regardless of the cause of a significant fire or explosion, we would have a pre
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staged equipment procedures and policies to help deal with that situation. all of these things are directly applicable to the kinds of significant events. there has been a number of new rulemaking that directly relates to japan. there is a station black doctoral. it requires -- there is a station of black coat colt -- lblack-outtrule. there is a hydrogen rule which requires modifications to reduce the impact of hydrogen generated.
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there is equipment qualification rules that requires equipment indication equipment, to remain operable under the kinds of environmental temperature radiation conditions that he would see under a design basis axiom. going directly to the type of containment design the plant in japan have, we have had a containment improvement program since the very late 1980's. it installed a hardened the vent systems for the containment cooling. enhanced reliability of the automatic depressurization system. i also mentioned earlier that we have emergency preparedness and planning requirements that provide ongoing training and
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testing and evaluation of emergency preparedness programs and coordination of other federal partner fema. that entails extensive interaction with state and local governments as those programs are evaluated and tested on a yearly basis. over the near-term, the nrc activities -- concurrent with the event evaluation that we're doing for the operations center and the team that is in japan, we will be enhancing inspection activities for temporary constructions -- instructions to our inspection staff. look at the readiness to deal with both the design base is accidents and beyond design basis accidents. we already issued an information notice to the licensees to make them aware of the events and
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what kinds of activities we believe they should be engaged in to verify their readiness. every single day, we assess whether there is some additional regulatory action that needs to be taken immediately in order to redress the information that we have. the temporary inspection is verifying that the capabilities to medicate conditions the results from severe accidents, including the loss a significant operational safety systems, are operational. they're a fine the capabilities to mitigate a total loss -- of verifying the capabilities to mitigate a total loss of power. verifying the to the abilities to mitigate problems associated with flooding and the impact of floods on systems both inside and outside of the plant. they are identifying equipment
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that is needed to the potential loss of equipment due to seismic events, appropriate for the site. each site has its own seismic profile. the information that we gathered from this temporary inspection will be used to evaluate the industry's readiness for similar events and aid in our understanding of whether additional regulatory actions need to be taken in the immediate term. for a near-term effort, we are beginning very soon a 90-day effort that will evaluate all the currently available information from the japanese event. look at it to evaluate our 104 operating reactors ability to protect against natural disasters. to evaluate the response to station blackouts.
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look at radiological consequent analysis and also look at severe accident management issues regarding the equipment. i expect that coming out of this, we will have the development of some recommendations for generic communication, it did to make sure that the industry has a broad understanding of the events and the issues as best we understand them, but also that we would evaluate whether or not some regulatory action would be required in order to require the licensees to take some action the they have already done. i suspect that this 90-day effort will include a quick look and 83-day report to the commission. we stand ready to brief the commission as you desire. i think we will have a limited stakeholder in all but in this
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activity. it will be independent of industry efforts that might be ongoing. the idea is to just get a quick snapshot of the regulatory response and the condition of the u.s. fleet. based on whatever information we have available. i recognize that we have limited information now, more and more information will become available to us as the golan. we wanted to do at least this quick look beginning very soon. consistent with the commission's practices, the result of this report will be made public. we will be developing lessons learned that are somewhat dependent upon when we began to get a better understanding of the events on the result of the earthquake and tsunami in japan.
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it is difficult to precisely state when the start date for this longer-term review will be again. the review may include the involvement of other federal agencies, but it will certainly include interaction with those other federal agencies because there is the issue of emergency preparedness. that is a prime example where we would interact with fema. we would identify the lessons learned to incorporates any long-term agency action. we will evaluate all the technical and policy issues to identify additional research or generic communications, changes to our reactor oversight program, potential new rule making, adjustments for the
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regulatory framework that should be conducted by the nrc. we will evaluates agency issues and also look for applicability to non -- i expect a slugger to report to have substantial stakeholder involvement -- i expect this longer report to have substantial stickle dirt involvement. -- stakeholder involvement. in conclusion, i want to make it clear that we continue to make our domestic responsibilities of licensing and oversight of the u.s. licensees our top priority. there are a valuations that are beginning and they will be influenced by our understanding of the events in japan.
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with that, that concludes my presentation. i am ready to enter any questions. >> thank you, bill, for the thorough presentation. we have a proposal in front of the commission now to consider the options for the short-term and long-term review. we will take a look at that and provide responses. i want to reiterate my thanks to the work that you and your team have done over the last several days to deal with this situation and to emphasize the importance of a methodical review so that we do make sure that we approach these issues and really get the facts and make sure we do not move in a direction that is based on early information, which often tends to be confusing. i appreciate the work that you have done to this point. i did not have any specific
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questions at this time. >> thank you, mr. chairman. tuba, bill. i second the chairman's comments about the tremendous -- thank you, the bill. i said the chairman's comments. there is a lot that we do not yet know and so that becomes a context for the types of questions that we're able to ask about this event. very generally, i would ask you , in the staffs expert assessment this morning, do you believe that the events at fukushima have stabilized or is it reasonable to expect that events there will continue to be dynamic in the days and weeks to come? >> the fact that of site power is close to being available for use is perhaps the first optimistic sign that we have had
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that things would be turning around. we believe that the vehicles on the units 3 and 4, to companies that were of a significant safety concerns, the situation there is stabilized. the containment and all three units, one, too, and 3, appeared to be functional. there is water being injected into the reactors. optimistically, things appear to be on the verge of stabilizing. this has been a very challenging a bent -- a very challenging event for us to understand the exact situation. the information is sometimes conflicting. it is certainly not the level that any engineer would like to have an order to do a thorough analysis. we've spent a lot of the time trying to piece together our
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best understanding. that would be my personal assessment. >> is it fair to say from that that based on what we understand now of the needs that need to be addressed at the site, those are being addressed and they have the status that you just described to me? those are the items of highest interest. it sounds also like in the days and weeks to come, we will certainly discover other conditions and things at the site that we do not know about right now? >> yes. the radiation releases that we have seen on sites were primarily influenced by the condition of the units 3 and 4. the water inventory questions, whether or not there was some tool uncovered, it was of
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significant concern. pepco, the licensee, and the government of japan have been making a concerted effort to address those issues. i did not believe we have anywhere near a clear understanding of what the plant conditions are like within the reactor buildings. what kind of electrical cabling has been damaged, what kind of pumps and valves remain operable, it is significant unknown right now. >> thank you. he gave a very high level chronology of the events that occurred. a rally in the being a narrative of three events that are -- it really in some of being a narrative of the three events related to each other. first, the earthquake. second, this tsunami. followed by the loss of power. in terms of what we know now and
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given that there are these three events in succession, do you think that are regulatory focus right now for the review we are doing is where it needs to be? >> i am quite confident. we looked at all the information that we're getting from japan. we'll look at the debate -- at the design basis for the u.s. reactors. we continue with the inspection program. we have a high degree of confidence. >> thank you. there has been some discussion of what we called generic safety issue 199 -- that is a program that we have at the nrc. could you talk a little bit about the ongoing nature? could you talk about what was
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occurring there and how the events in japan may alter how we approach that generic safety issue going forward? >> occasionally, it is every five years or so, the usgs does the review of information than unpacks the government's understanding of seismic frequencies and issues associated. recently, they put out a reports that talked about the seismic information for the central and eastern united states. that information has been given to the industry. there is now both industry and -- it would cause us to have to change the seismic design basis for the plants.
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>> as we do every time we get any kind of new information, seismic or otherwise, we do a quick look to make sure that we do not believe there is any immediate information or any immediate to take into predatory action. if there was, we would certainly give it out to be immediate and imposition of new operating guidelines or new systems or requirement to shut the reactor down. until the issue was addressed. in this case, we did that review. we found no reason to take any immediate regulatory action. this is ongoing. i do not believe that what we have learned from japan would cause a different type of analysis it puts a brighter spotlight on the work we are doing. i am confident that the approach we have been on is the right approach.
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>> you described the role in the interagency response. are we as cognizant of and working to understand and make sure that our efforts to not conflict with any industry assistance that is going on? i am not aware of tokyo electric power reaching out to. do we maintain a cognizant of that so that we can make sure that all efforts are credited? >> -- are coordinated? >> we are aware of that industry reaction has been ongoing. there are many vendors and companies in the united states that have ongoing business relationships with pepco. at the working level, -- i did
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hire coordinated industry level, i would say that we are still in the formula stages of that interaction. we've had some discussions with the industry. u.s. industry. it is still evolving. we are cognizant of what is going on. trying to help facilitate the contacts between the u.s. and japanese companies in any way that we can. that would be a potential benefit to pepco. >> thank you. my last question to you is you mentioned are abilities to issue very rapidly curious types of generic communications to the industry. you talked about the fact that we had already issued an information notice. can you describe generally, what are we alerting the u.s. reactors to? >> the main purpose was to have
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a regulatory follow up on the activities. the industry has taken on their own and to verify that the plant procedures or the types of things i discussed that came out of 9/11, all those pieces of equipment, a temporary hoses, settings, procedures, that all those things are still in place. the operators are cognizant of them. they have been trained. for whatever reason, to make sure they have not fallen into disuse because they have not been used. it was a regulatory verification that the industry has been taken and we will be following up on the result of those discussions
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and giving our own sampling. >> ok. those were the items. based on what we know now, we identified them as being as the -- at the highest interest. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. bill, we know there is music -- they are the same design as those in fukushima. you also said that in the recent past, -- have the japanese done this? >> that, we are not clear on. i cannot really answer that question. >> if they had done it, would that have affected and in what way? >> it would not have affected
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the loss of all such power. the hydrogen explosion aspect, though, possibly is pretty hard and then it would happen. there are to event pass on both the u.s. containment. the preferred vent path has a release path on the air space above a pool of water. that would allow for this team that went into -- you would have a release. it would relieve the pressure, the main objective of the event. you want to maintain the containment integrity. that is preferable to vent it on purpose to get the pressure said that you do not have a catastrophic failure to contain.
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that relief path is exterior to the panama -- to the plant. you would not have the hydrant and accumulation in the upper levels of the building, which we believe this because of the explosion. the spent fuel pools on this design are also on that same level of the reactor building. the hard in the event would not do anything to help hydrogen that came from the spent fuel pool. >> you also mentioned that we have designed basis, 5-b installed after september 11. did the japanese have any of those? >> i am not sure. we are trying to get
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information and i am not personally aware of that. >> thank you. some people are asking why did the germans shot down their plans for some plants after the accident and we did not? is that prudent of the germans? >> i am not aware of the basis of the german decision to do that. i.m. 100% confident the review that we do every single day, that we have a sufficient basis for believe or to conclude that the u.s. plants continue to operate safely. we have asked ourselves the question every single day, should we take the regulatory action based upon the latest information, and because of the kind of things i outlined in my presentation, we have now
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reached the conclusion. >> thank you. of course the seismic risk is at the forefront of the news. we hear that -- first of all, we emphasize that the seismic design is based on the hard road map for to the horizontal dynamics of the plant. -- a horizontal dynamics of the plant. we also hear that the outbreak at fukashima had not been anticipated. we would say that in the united states, we designed our plant by looking at the historical effort but we added margins. i believe that the strongest earthquake in the united states has occurred east of the rocky it wasns, in the 1800's,
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between 7.7 on the richter scale, something like that. immediately you get the question, you design against those, but look at japan. if you had an earthquake with a magnitude of nine, how does one answer that question? you could always have and 9.5 occur. is there a rational way of addressing that? >> my explanation is one i know you understand. we look that up faults around the u.s. and have that information's. look at the historical record, but that the maximum earthquake, and with everything we do, we add margins, but we also looked at the specific location in relation to the fault. we considered the kinds of soil
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and rock formations between the fault location and the site, and analysis to see the ground motion that would actually be seen at the site. and we design for an earthquake of a certain size. i am falling into the trap of saying of a certain size, of the ground motion of a certain magnitude. having said that, with all these other things, severe accident management guideline, the b five b procedures, we have procedures and equipment in place that says, even if we were wrong and the plant suffered this serious event, we have in fact the activities, the equipment, ready and practiced to respond to protect public health and safety. i do not know if i should throw
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that on here is if you want more detail on seismic issues. >> just say your name. >> i am with seismic research. a lot like to make a couple of points. the first is related to the ground motion in japan. recently, starting in 2006, the japanese regulatory agency will form a study in which they look that increased hazard at the plant. recently they did a re- evaluation of that impact at the facility. we've worked -- they were in the middle of this as the event occurred. a number of modifications were made to the plant. it is not clear exactly what modifications the fukashima
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plant had already had implemented. however the ground motions for which the plant was re- evaluated is about 0.62 g. based on the preliminary information that we have, 0.62 g is the range of the motions actually experienced by the plant. although it came from a different earthquake than was anticipated, the ground motion for which the plant was assessed was a 7.1, very close to the plan. that is what produced the ground motion even though it was a different event, they were not out of the range that they had already considered. it is less clear with regard to the tsunami.
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currently japanese society of civil engineers had an assessment guidance for japan. it was anticipated that the japanese regulators would to a similar study for tsunami has assessments at the plant when that was completed. unfortunately, because the guidance had not yet been completed, they did not initiate the work. to clarify that even though this particular event was larger than anticipated, it probably did not exceed ground motion. the one exception might be in a long period range, because if you have a large event farther away, you have more long period contact than anticipated from a close event. the second question is heisman -- seismic hazard in the united states. we are undertaking a program to
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issue 0199 looking at the potential impact to assess risk, given a perceived increase in the ground motion hazard in the central u.s., which was initiated by the new usgs seismic hazard mapping work that was done. it is important to note that when the modern analysis techniques used are probabilistic techniques, and they account for as a plea all sources, all the different magnitude capable of those sources, up to and including maximum magnitude events, which we have seen in the historic record. the most widely felt earthquake in the u.s. was the 1812, which
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we think were a magnitude 7. and yet we do at the potential for exceeding that, we also captured the likelihood that that event occurs. that also accounts for background specificity, which cannot be attributed to a specific fall. it is important note that seismicity tends to be in what we call seismic zones, which are not regularly attributable to false. and we account for all of these hazards in the seismic zone. one of the questions that has come up repeatedly is how many plants are near faults or in moderate or high seismic regions. that is a very challenging question to answer is because they are not well defined. the fault of the 1811 and 1812
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earthquakes have never been identified. they are under very deep sediments in mississippi. we have to account for the uncertainty of the location and for the uncertainty involved in maximum magnitude. and all that is incorporated in the house of analyses that we undertake. the generic issue program is using the most date of the r type of analyses, which to look at earthquakes and include earthquakes beyond the design basis. in that way we directly account for those potential sources and those potential earthquakes which are not under our current design basis, and we are currently assessing the risk on those events. >> thank you for that, amy.
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>> i would like to make one comment and ask my last question. you mentioned several times probabilities. even after we to this analysis, -- do this analysis, it is a different way of looking at. it is not the most likely have been that we anticipate, we always ask that question, what if we are wrong and we take additional measures. that is important for people to understand. probability is sometimes easy to attack. one last question. as you mentioned, the damage in fukashima was not really caused by the earthquake. it was the tsunami that came afterwards. the question now is, when we license power plants here, are we considering this 1-2 punch?
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are we considering a major fire for a plug because banks holding water pail? -- or a flood, because banks holding water back fail? how are we approaching this issue in the united states? >> the design basis includes many different analyses. i would say one thing about the earthquake in japan. we do not know what the impacts of the earthquake are inside the reactor building's specifically. that is where most of the and equipment of interest to us would be located. it may have survived perfectly well, or there may be damage that we just do not know about. we need to see what the inspection results, once they
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have access to the plant, are. but our reviews for the u.s. includes by -- they are always cite specific. in earthquakes, in a soft soil environment, there's not a very challenging review that as challenges -- that is required. but it might be that you need a storm surge for a hurricane or for a tsunami. you do not take every possible current event and pile them altogether into one event. it is done more on a event by event basis. [inaudible] >> you could answer the question, is more generally, held to reconsider separate
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design basis events -- how do we consider separate design business events, or can we consider them all simultaneously on a plan? >> as bill mentioned, we take into account whatever natural phenomenon could occur at a particular site, whether or hurricane, a tsunami, an earthquake, tornado, what have you. i have not exactly sure if i understand the question directly. are you asking a seismic event followed by tsunami? i know that we in now lot -- analyze the tsunami in the maximum storm surge. and also what kind of run out what happened. physically a tsunamis are triggered by an earthquake. one of the things we would analyze for that, and we have done that for our plants on the
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coasts. >> thank you. >> we are at a very early stage and detailed information is probably going to be some time until we have it. exactly what the impacts of the tsunami and/or the earthquake will probably take some time to understand. >> good morning, bill. all be as quick as i can. there has been a lot of discussion in the media that compares what is happening in japan to three mile island. as i looked at this and we are still early, i tend not to think about three mile island than 9/11. one reason is that it seems to me there are a lot of lessons
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learned, a lot of technical details to sort out over time. but as in the case of 9/11, is there a major conceptual a-ha sitting there in front of us? i do not want to miss the forest while looking over the trees. in the case of 9/11, it was not that we just need to do a better job of protecting the airplane cockpits and lots of other security upgrades, it was a conceptual a'ha that the threat is different? do you see a different message out there that we should be thinking about? >> i do not see a significant message, but that is why we need to do this quick look review. my personal view is that what we need to do is take some very experienced people that are both within the staff, and maybe take some even recently retired people that have expertise in
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the broad areas of design review and licensing, and let them focus on the question -- is there something here that causes us to question the way we have applied, and being a risk-in form, the various barriers of radiation release protection and those kinds of things. evaluate whether or not there is something different that needs to be done. it has not actually occurred to anything, it has given me a confidence, if you will, that all of those redundancies and all of our processes are paying off. it was maybe in the view of some stakeholders overly conservative the way that we have to approach this, but i think we see the value and benefit of that approach that
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we have used for the last 35 years. >> i appreciate and agree with that. let me give you some thoughts about where i think there might be larger issues to think about. in looking at, as we described it, we do not know the details but we do have the sense that the plant seemed to survive the earthquake. we do have the sense that the theami's disabling of backup power system led to the situation that followed. but even beyond that, there is the fact that there was so much difficulty in bringing resources to the plant to recover from that situation. when you look get our plants, you could -- we have certainly done things in a b5b and we will
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be looking at those issues. but if you lose a lot of infrastructure and the ability to get to decide, if you lose hundreds of miles of transmission wire and lose the ability to have rail transport, to move equipment around, that is something i do not know there has been a lot of thought about. i wonder if you could reflect on that for a moment. . when i look at this event, i looked at us significant struggle, especially in the early part, to get the right resources to the plant to be able to recover from this accident. even today there is basic power. when you think about this and we will get this in great detail, but do we have the regulatory scope to cover all the ground that needs to be covered to be sure that the infrastructure is in place to be able to recover from an accident like this?
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>> there are a couple of levels of like to touch on in response to that question. i have no idea what the situation is in japan regarding their regulations and what they have in place. i am not complying with the they have or did not have these kinds of things. -- implying that they did have or did not have those kinds of things. but in the united states, there are is a requirement to in dallas -- to analyze what happens in a plant in its coping strategy to deal with a loss of all ac power. if you lose the transmission and the diesels do not start, then they have to do in the valuation and a coping study on how they would be able to restore the plant. that has resulted in various approaches at different sites. some have a gas turbine on the
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site that could be very quickly hooked up into the grid -- not into the grid, into the plant. there's some that have non- safety related diesel generators. there's some that have diesel fire pumps so that there is a backup to a back up to a backup wade to inject water into the corps and to the spent fuel pool. there is a regulatory construct required and mandated for that kind of activity. from the u.s. perspective, coming out of 9/11, we had the department of homeland security position to orchestrate the entire federal response to an event of magnitude you might be suggesting, that what happened so that the full resources of the u.s. government would be able to use different resources to get a temporary equipment to
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the site in order to provide electrical power, tipperary diesel generators, that kind of thing. and a backstop for all of that, and i'm leaving the federal regulatory requirements perspective, is that the u.s. industry i think is unique in the world, but also within the industries in this country, the wall on the one hand they are competitors, but they share operating experience. they have programs that they all contribute to. they had an inventory of spare parts and equipment that could be very quickly brought to bear in responding to this kind of event. this is outside the regulatory purview, i want to make clear, but this is another backstopp that would help a site that had
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a similar kind of problem. >> i appreciate that. let someone else echo of your positive words about the industry. in this particular industry, i think it responded very well to this. i particularly congratulate one company's efforts to work with the international partners, and also to take positive actions here in the united states. i think they have done a good job, and i think individual companies have done a lot and so i congratulate the industry for reacting that way. let me move on to a different subject. we have talked about hydrogen this morning. and the measures that we have to deal with hydrogen. is it your understanding that all the hydrogen came from the
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spent fuel? >> i would now want to hazard a guess. it is certainly a likely source, but whether it was all that, i cannot tell. >> i want to give you a chance to give a more holistic response to this. what would keep hydrogen from collecting and exploding in the united states? >> the u.s. design approach is to have integrity of the containment. if you do that even with fuel damage, you can prevent the uncontrolled release of radioactive material into the environment. three mile island, for example, had scored damage, a significant amount, get the radiological receives -- releases were very limited. there was negligible health
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effects from that accident. then it's will allow the primary containment -- the vents will allow the primary containment to stay in tech. that is the single most important thing. the other thing to maintain containment was particular design, we have required since the late 1980's inerting of the containment. it is filled with nitrogen. so you do not have oxygen, so even if you did have hydrogen in there, you would not have an explosion or fire. those are the big ones. >> one more question. just to give you a chance to clarify, there has been awful lot of chatter in the press over the weekend about the impact of
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50-mile evacuation zones around united states. could you give your position on what emergency planning requirements are and why we are confident in what we have today? >> we have as part of the emergency preparedness constructs in this country, a 10-mile zone which completely encircles every reactor in the country. it is in coordination with the man who has all site emergency preparedness roles -- with fe ma who as of sight emergency preparedness roles. -- has offsite emergency preparedness role. the nrc does not make the recommendation regarding evacuations or any other protective actions. that is the responsibility of
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the state government. it would be the governor that would ultimately be making that decision. we are in a position to provide independent assessment and advice to the governor in those kinds of circumstances. the situation that led to the 50-mile guidance in japan was based upon what we understood and still believe have existed, grated conditions and the two at the site.ols based on the situation as we understood it, we thought it was prudent to provide the recommendation to the ambassador to evacuation how to 50 miles in japan. it was not based on the existing radiological conditions, but what at that time was a possibility.
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we thought it was the prudent, conservative suggestion. if those conditions existed in the united states, we would have made the exact same recommendations. the idea that there might be some misunderstanding that because we have a 10-mile evacuation zone, that is the extent of what we would consider, that is not true at all. we would have done the exact same kind of analysis and on for the same thought process to convert -- and gone through the same thought process to consider an evacuation, whatever measures we thought were proper it. >> thank you. >> i think you for your leadership in this effort and for the hard work and professionalism.
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not the substantive technical details but the process employed following these other significant events, that would help inform the task force's execution of its mission? >> is very important that the task force keep the broad
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perspective of the regulatory framework that exists within the nrc and the legal framework within the united states. there is a temptation to try to pile in every good idea of that exists in to something that becomes unmanageable. and ultimately could end up being counterproductive to safety. there was a degree of that, in my opinion, always speaking in my personal opinion, after three mile island. when i started at the agency at 1983, we were following up the actions of three mile island action plan. anyone who started in the in our say has that number burned into their brain, because we spent an enormous amounts of resources following up on those activities. some of those are absolutely
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instrumental in improving the safety in this country. somewhere, i believe, actually -- if we had carried them all out, might have been counterproductive. they might have been a good idea in somebody's mind. after you go through the brainstorming and the identification of all possible things to change, i think there needs to be a good evaluation, a thorough evaluation of what is the right thing to do and in what kind of sequence and timing. >> i will make two comments on that. one is for your information and you may be aware of it, but the national academies and it took a significant study for about nine or 10 federal agencies looking at disaster resilience in this country, pacifically from the context of inner edges
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cooperation, roles and responsibilities. it was not nuclear-specific. the extent of interagency coordination in this country is a prime study of that subject. there may be some value in looking at that. referring to the commissioners question on the transportation and logistics report, which i completely agree have been issues in this particular response. one might take note of the defense department's efforts in 1963. there has been a very operationally ready deep submergence rescue vehicle on standby close to airplanes on the east and west coasts of the united states to provide a response. other agencies have gone through similar analogs to see how they would deal with responses. that is something to note.
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also staying on the big picture historical nature of some of the prior nrc responses to these big events, it strikes me as perhaps the recipients of these reports will be representing a broader cross-section than typical commission meetings. we have the nuclear industry, many of the same stakeholders from issue to issue, but my personal opinion is that this is one where how we communicate to john q. public, the person who does not have a stake in the industry, not part of one of the normal stakeholder groups, but deserves and needs to receive a reply that they can understand, it is really essential. anything from your prior experience at nrc did you think
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would be in your initial thoughts on how we communicate so that people and the american public understand on these longer-term efforts? >> this is just my view, my public assessment. especially in the long term review that we do, we need to build in a meaningful engagement with all the stakeholders. they have an enormous capability to understand the most technical issues. sometimes we think that capability does not exist, but it is in fact not true. i have had an enormously valuable input from a wide range of stakeholders. this is off of event response, but when we establish an oversight program 10 or 12 years ago, we use just that kind of approach. we brought in all kinds of different stakeholders from all different perspectives, and it was a very impressive and
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results that had everyone's buy yin. pro-nuclear, anti-nuclear, they said that this was a good approach to regulatory reform. that is the same mindset to start at the beginning, and where we get into the trouble is the regulator is when we have our mind made up, or even if not, but there is a perception that we have our mind paid-up. i think we need to do it right from the very beginning, have it be very open and transparent. >> thank you. as the chairman indicated in his comments earlier, there is much that we do not know and there will be significant periods of time bill or we have significant rain in the already -- significant irregularities.
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i have spent very little time looking at spent fuel pools. i go visit the plant and see the pool and some of these events. i have probably seen four in the last year. i do not have much background on the pools. i recognize that has been a focus of a lot of the concerns over the last 10 days, and perhaps compared to our discussions in the emergency core cooling systems, and other issues we do not spend a lot of time as a commission talking about, is there any initial area of u.s. reactor plant spent fuel configurations or operations that comes to your mind as warranting particular exploration in this task force? >> clearly is a very simple problem. all you have to do is keep water in the pool.
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the only objective is to keep water in it. even if in a bad situation, if it were the he debt in you have boiling, as long as you kept the fuel covered with water, you will prevent the high radiological release. i think what the task force needs to do is to go down the specifics of what happened in japan, and evaluate that to make sure that in fact these things that we put into place after 9/11, for example, really would work under that scenario. we have thought about things like making sure that the equipment you are going to use would not be damaged in the event that caused the first problem. you cannot have everything exactly where it is ready to be used. there has to be some staging area. on a tsunami or flooding issue, he would not want equipment stored outside. it would be swept away.
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another what if that would help us explore and probe what the various scenarios are, make sure that we have the most -- the highest probability of success. that is really the box we need people to think about. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> are there any other questions that my colleagues have? i am sorry. >> i'm not sure if i can ask a question. [laughter] i do want to take a moment and think all of the nrc staff that have responded to this event. -- thank all of the nrc staff that have responded to this event. they're working very hard, very long hours, still doing their real jobs too. that has to be our first priority. i won the spade -- make special
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note of the team of people that volunteered to go to japan on notice, that -- on no notice, working in a way that there is no operating procedure to operate in. they had had to develop it on the go. there are many people that have worked very hard. we have sent another person to help in that team leader role, and there is the next wave of nrc employees that have volunteered. they will be leaving, i think it is tomorrow, and the last element of that group on thursday. i want to make special note of their commitment and professionalism. >> i appreciate that and your work as well. at this point, we do have proposal that captures at a high
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level some of these ideas for a path forward. i would encourage that we move on that as promptly as possible. i thought i would offer at this time an opportunity if the one wants to make comments on that or any other issues that we have in front of us. >> i thank you for convening this meeting today. it is been very helpful. i know that we are all ready to move forward to take the actions we need to take. >> again, i want to thank everybody for their efforts so far. i want to reiterate as we close that as many people on this side of the table had indicated, we have had many of us carry close and personal relationships with colleagues in japan. our hearts go out to them as they deal with this very difficult event. and we will continue to work to provide our colleagues in counterparts in japan with
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assistance as they needed to deal with the situation. and i think as the commissioner indicated, it is likely the first of many discussions we will have on this topic. i look forward to continuing the discussion and our focus on hard courts say the mission. with that, we are adjourned. thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011]
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i am not that simple. that is not a big deal. on sausage making and i am speculating, but the first case will come out of the gate the sixth circuit. august, september, the court will be in recess anyway. they will follow a cert petitions, and the court may
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well sit on it for a few months. that certainly makes sense for them to take another case. we can talk about one of the reasons, asking the entire circuit to hear us, it is slower and too old for this situation to prevail at the panel level. we would not have this problem as i expect here this week. in the case of the fourth and the sixth circuit, where the losers can go directly to the supreme court, and seek cert, but it is not truth you win. >> i think we have unfortunately run out of time. you can pepper david with further questions on his way out the door.
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thank you very much for an informative talk. [applause] >> you received your law lecture for the day, so this is the debate portion. it was signed into law by president obama in one year ago this wednesday. this panel is comprised of distinguished experts on various aspects of the health-care law. we will hear from them about this law's impact on health care
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markets, labor markets, and the federal and state government budgets. leading the assault will be kavita patel. she is the managing director for delivery system reform at the engelberg center at the brookings institution here she is the former director policy for the white house office of public engagement and in trouble -- intergovernmental affairs. you may remember some of her videos from the legislative debate over this law. she is also the former deputy staff director for the senate health committee under then- chairman senator edward kennedy. kavita will be talking about the provisions of the lot are intended to improve the quality of care and how it is delivered in the united states. i will follow her to talk a little bit about the history and debate over the law and the quality and access issues. ron pollack will be following
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me. ron is the founding executive director of families usa, a national organization for health care consumers, and their mission is to achieve affordable health care coverage for everyone in the u.s.. ron will be talking about the active provisions. he will be followed by douglas holtz-eakin batting cleanup for us. is currently the president of the american action forum and a former director of the congressional budget office. i'll turn the mike over to kavita right now. if you have questions, there will be a brief break between this panel and the next, 15 minutes, where we will have a debate over the constitutionality of the health care law. but for right now, kavita. >> thank you for inviting me.
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it has been an honor and privilege to be here and getting to talk about the affordable. at. i want to spend some time -- a cut -- the affordable care act. we will have spirited questions and discussion afterward, but i want to spend time because one will speak more to the access and coverage pieces, to try to break down the 2800 + pages of a lot of language that the american public has not even begun the process, digest. we heard a lot from our previous speaker about the constitutionality and issues that the state levels. i want to talk about not only what i have seen in person with how the markets are changing, but more importantly, which all of us who care about health care, hopefully everyone in this room, considering the impact on where the rubber meets the road -- critical care.
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my primary background is primary care. that is where we're and we talk about quality, delivery system reform, and some of the actual transformations, the pieces that are the most promising are those that largely were not specified to the letter of detail, and having a history of working on the hill and the administration, that is a very good thing. we're seeing some of the things right now with medical homes, patient coordination, coming to live by the fact that one of the things we tried to do in the affordable care act was to show that those are the promising areas for the next decade. i will lay out some specifics. it is not unknown to many of you that our population is aging. as everyone debates budget, inside elements, security, medicare, and medicaid as well,
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the aging population will have an impact on that. as we talk about access and coverage, we are asking for the states to look at how to transform their medicaid systems, which you heard a little bit about. all that is a good thing, and even before the affordable care act came into being, it was something that past administrations democratic and republican had been struggling with. what the affordable care act did is to help promote innovations in not only how we spend health care dollars, but doing what we are seeing right now, showing markets and labor forces with large on health care that it is an avenue toward better care, though right care for the right patient at the right time. doing that is much more difficult. a couple of other statistics, the swelling of our aging population.
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anyone in the health professions know that we have this right of passage where medical students have to decide what kind of career they will enter into. for a long time, and we're still dealing with this trend, more and more students ending -- entering into highly lucrative specialties. it is something where they know they can be paid a lot more money for less time largely because of the incentives currently in place. the timing is not a coincidence, but for the first time in years, we see a reverse in the trend. this year we matched up 11% more into primary care. there was a process that led up to that. there is a lot more work to be done, but the investments in health reform in terms of coordinating care and emphasizing some level of primary care as a good thing, that is something that we will hopefully see become more and more into the public vernacular.
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a lot of this debate in conversations in washington are still misunderstood, misrepresented, and confusing to the public. at an actual medical students, voting with their feet and entering non-specialty primary care is one measure of that. the second thing is innovation investment itself. a lot of us working on the health care law in new that there were mechanisms bureaucratic and statutory all and otherwise which were preventing the center for medicare and medicaid services ward -- rewarding innovative practices. and it started in a bipartisan fashion at the center for medicare and medicaid services, $10 million largely left so that we can do what has traditionally been a long process for
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demonstration projects to make sure we have flexibility to do that kind of work with actual practices. one of the first things out of the gate from that $10 million was to promote the primary care medical home, done at the state levels. seven states have received grants and funding to promote what they started on their own in private settings, and to do that within medicare and medicaid. in terms of quality, if any of that people in the room have tried to go to any of the government websites or data sources and understand the quality in our country, if he can be difficult to find, much less for yourself as a patient in the system. we have known for the last seven to eight years that the quality of care in our country has been at most on average good, about half the time. if you're someone who goes to vegas and tries to bet, that may be peace and not. if you are dealing with health
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care, that is unacceptable. we need to make sure that we understand the gap, why it is half the care on average, and then do something about it. we need to not just put money and data into websites but actually investing in effectiveness and comparing research that looks at treatments, processes of care, as well as guidelines and how our evidence is being utilized by the commission. going through it and thinking and streamlining and for netting what the government does is something all of us felt was broken and dysfunctional. hopefully moving forward and even one year later, we learn that agencies within the federal government do that now work with the judge, who historically not traded at or had data accessible to public people, are now doing that. all of these changes, i would say, are moving as in the direction we're going back to
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what is important, patient, clinicians, and as will health care providers, they are trying and getting the information they need an understanding that they work in a system that is rewarding the patient and the population as a whole, and not just the services. i do not want to spend -- we'll talk more about the specific provisions. in my mind in thinking forward, a year, and what is the potential for the future, i would say that the key things are things that were not spelled out, the minutia, but offer opportunity for not only interpretation but action and decision making on behalf of actual health care providers. accountable care of court -- associations, purchasing, a lot of the insurance design benefits that we hope we will see in medicare as well as the state medicaid contracts. that is exactly where the
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promise of not only cost containment and been in the cost curve will come from but the true promise of how to deliver the right care at the right place at the right time will come from. i look forward to questions about their. i turn it over to my friend, ron. thank you. >> thank you, kavita. it is remarkable -- is not remarkable that we are having this event. oftentimes that is a major happening. there are a number of these fans are around washington, d.c. i think what is remarkable is the content of these events. they come asking if we have met our goal for implementation. to deliver what it does promise, but the question everyone today
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is will this law even be here in two years. or will it be repealed? it is a remarkable law that we are talking about here. but for it even cleared congress, voters in massachusetts took what was from massachusetts a very distasteful step of electing a republican to the u.s. senate in order to try to stop this law. many have enacted legislation to block it before it passes congress. and since obamacare has become law, i should mention parenthetically, that are a lot of people who do not like the term obamacare, they considered to be pejorative. i do not. it is a huge success, the president will thank us for calling it. some have amended their state constitutions in the hope of
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blocking this law. 28 have filed suits in federal court say that obamacare violates the u.s. constitution. they have been dozens of lawsuits, many are frivolous but two are not. they have declared all or part of obamacare to be unconstitutional. opposition to the law contributed heavily to republican gains in 20 at 12. the house and voted to repeal obamacare. at least four states have reduced the federal funds that offers them. despite assurances that americans have come to like the law, once they have found out what is in it, the military breeds contempt. -- familiarity breeds contempt. the first act was introduced in june 2009, and a plurality of
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the american public is opposed to it. among likely voters, the opposition is greater. the loss supposed beneficiaries of the group's most hostile to the law. senior citizens in a recent poll oppose the law by a 12 point margin. and small businesses are suing successfully so far to overturn obamacare. why is this happening? why so much opposition? there are a number of reasons. a number of americans believe that obamacare claims that power have -- to force americans to buy a private profit. it does not sit well with the structure and purpose of the constitution. other americans see obamacare as
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a barrier, not and enablers, to more affordable, better health care. massachusetts passed a similar law in 2006. that led to rising costs, modest change, questionable health the face, and is even open the door to government rationing. that is how this law purports to pay for half of the trillion dollars of new federal spending under obamacare, by rationing care to seniors in the medicare program. the provisions of this law called consumers protection is really are not. they can hurt as much as they can help. for example, the mandate intended to provide coverage to workers up to the age of 26, that increases the cost of depended care coverage and is led least one employer, a union local in new york, to drop
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coverage for 6000 dependents. a mandate that was supposed to expand coverage for dependents has the opposite effect in this case. extending provisions for preconditions are price controls. where the government says that an enrollee is healthy or sick and you have to charge him the same as everyone else their rage, but the government is effectively doing is dictating that insurance companies charge help the people more so that they can charge sick people less. the problem with price controls is that they always failed. they always cause human misery because they do not change economic realities. they encourage people to ignore that underlying economic reality. the worst-case scenario under the suppose it protections is that the market will implode.
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we have seen that happen in 20 states where the price controls have been applied to health insurance for children. the child-only health insurance market has vanished in 20 states. the best case scenario under these price controls is that the market rose slowly as insurers ignored the sick. when you have these price controls in place and consumers have a choice, this is people gravitate toward the most comprehensive plans -- the sixth people gravitate toward the most comprehensive plan, and they tend to disappear. to prevent that from happening, insurers compete to avoid this sick, because that is what price controls reward.
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if they find a way to avoid treating the sick, then their bottom line improves. and there are examples of this happening in markets and even health insurance exchanges such as the federal employees' health benefit program, where people with high-cost medical conditions run into these conditions. their job because the sickest people value those and will go to other competitors and bring down their bottom lines. these price controls do not give sick people the security to access to care. nor the freedom to purchase insurance. instead we are making these price controls may access to care less secure as well as destroying innovation. we have seen this happen in north carolina. several months ago, there were news reports that the white
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house was touting as excess of the law, that a north carolina insurance was giving refunds to its enrollees as a result of obamacare. what was happening is that they were digging into a pot of money meant to pay the medical bills for the sick. they were giving that money to largely healthy people. they raided funds intended for sick people to give them to help the people and we call this consumer protection. in 2014, those of the incentives that all of the sick people in this country will face. has the final month consumer protections, entire states are asking that department of health and human services to waive these consumer protections, which raise the question whether these are consumer protections at all. the obamacare is no more. to improve the quality of care
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than it is. to protect -- obamacare is no more going to improve the quality of care than it is going to protect patients. we created the center for medicare and medicaid innovation that will run pilot programs, experiment with different ways of setting the prices and different financial incentives, to see a providers will deliver care that is more coordinated, so that doctors will talk to each other about the care they are providing a shared patient. there are other innovations, but let us talk about this one. the problem with pilot programs is that we have tried it and it has never worked. medicare has been trying pilot programs for its entire existence. i did they fail or if they succeed in improving the quality of care and reducing the cost of care, they are blocked by the corners of the health-care
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industry whose incomes train those innovations threaten. they will see medicare revenues delivered someplace else. underlying pressure, these two pilot programs were eliminated. an article hold positions in switzerland and at them, what would it take for you to provide more coordinated care that you are providing right now? the swiss doctors said that they would one of 40% raise before they took steps to improve the quality of care. that is the sort of resistance you will see to these pilot programs. as far as the cost of care, it will not improve the cost of medical or health care coverage either. some to the effect on december
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23, already increasing the cost of health insurance for millions of americans. one insurance company reported that they were up to buy it up to 40% for you when i hear about this anymore, because kathleen sebelius friend of bankrupt any company. but it is increasing premiums by more than 2%. the premise of this law is that you can reduce individual responsibility for health care spending and people will make more response will spending decisions. another reason for backlash against this lot is that many believe that it is overkill. if you look at the pre-existing condition insurance plan, they have attracted 12,000 enrollees at last count, or 3% of the 375,000 that were projected to enroll. that is the primary motivation for this law, protect people
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with pre-existing conditions. is it just it was not necessary to conscripts to 1 million americans in to a compulsory scheme in order to solve that problem. finally come in many americans are taking this law personally. the president promised he would put an into the game playing but then made back room deals with the drug lobby and walmart and others all senators used tax dollars to buy votes in support of it. the watched kathleen sebelius repeatedly sensor insurers who disagreed with her. they saw their own tax dollars by ads where andy griffith using weasel words, and that is from, about how this will affect their coverage.
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his own advisers and nonpartisan observers have discredit some things, but the americans will allow -- obamacare will allow americans to keep their own coverage. burris were heard that the individual mandate was a tax. then they told us it was not a tax. in the depressed -- the justice department argued it was a tax. certain people felt insulted. to wrap up, newt predicted that this would repealed by a 2013. i am struck by two things. if congress does not repeal it, we will be back here on the sick get a care of obamacare, the fifth anniversary of obamacare, the 10th anniversary, having conferences like this all over the country and we will ask why health care spending is still rising out of control, why we
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still do not have affordable care organizations, we will be asking and questioning why insurers are being rewarded by obamacare's price controls for avoiding treating the sick. and this thing that everyone must be struck by, regardless of what you think about this tradition, -- prediction, it is striking how plausible it is. far more plausible than anyone thought it would be one year ago today. i turn things over to ron and i look forward to your questions. >> good afternoon. good afternoon. other than that, michael, you like the affordable care at,
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right? [laughter] michael and i, we have been in a number of places together. the last time i was rewarded with the pre-cato institute t- shirt. i thought i was going to wear them but over -- only if we had an affordable at a birthday cake. i do not see it anywhere. on the fifth anniversary, maybe we will have that. you raise the question, michael, early on about will there be an affordable care act years from now? i think the answer is yes, we will have that. i was listening to david rivkin presentation and i was surprised we did not have a discussion about a key issue that will be dealt with if david
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is right that the affordable care act does not have a basis in the commerce clause. i think that it does. i used to be a law school dean and have argued in front of the supreme court a few times. i think it is constitutional but i will leave that to the next panel. one of the issues he did not address which i presume your next group will, even if the court does find that it does not have a constitutional basis in the commerce clause, what happens to the rest of the statute? you will hear significant debate about this so-called sever ability to issue, and the legislation does not have a severable to clause -- sever ability clause. other things survive, and that test would be, things it would
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not have passed but for the passage of what is deemed unconstitutional, they are vulnerable to be deemed unconstitutional as well. other things are not. there is a whole host of provisions in this lengthy piece of legislation that do not even have a relationship, including some of the things i am talking about. i want to focus on two separate things. we get families usa to celebrate the passage of the affordable care act. we have a bake-off in our office. we have five different departments in each one is taking responsibility each day to day cake. and i have to give back to the first one. i am told is going to be delicious and very sightly. i want to talk about two things.
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why do we celebrate the affordable care act today, those of us to do? the first anniversary. what has been achieved in this first year? and then secondly, i want to talk about something that does not give a lot of attention even though it is key to the legislation, the access-related provisions in the statute. but it was seen in the first 12 months? widget what have we seen in the first 12 months? there are a number of things that have already gone into effect and i think they are very significant and by and large very helpful. since i have limited amount of time, when i go into all of them but let me pick out some of the more salient one. in no particular order, young adults which turned out to be the largest age group that is likely to be uninsured, now can
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get certain kinds of help, it continuing to stay on their parents' policy up until the 26 the birthday. there is $3.4 million of uninsured in this age group. i do not know the number of those who have already avail themselves of coverage. they can now get coverage through their paces. there is a moral here -- you have to be good to your parents. but i think it is something worth celebrating. with respect to seniors, some have already seen the benefits of this legislation in two different respects. one is you know it is the huge gap in coverage, the so-called euphemistic don't hold. -- doughnut hole.
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singers will get a certain amount of money and then they go in to this note-coverage zone. once the senior or other medicare beneficiary has spent $2,840 on drugs, that is when this gap in coverage begins and it does not end until they spend $6,484, a gap of $3,644, and with each passing year, this gap was supposed to get larger. last year people fell into the doughnut hole, received a modest $250 check that this place part of the cost. this year anyone falling into the whole it's their brand name drugs with a 50% discount. someone who does fall into it
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will have a bonus to help them afford those drugs. seniors are also receiving the benefit of preventative care. medicare becomes more of a preventive and primary care system, not just a sickness care system. i think that is very valuable. small business owners can receive a tax credit of up to 35% if they had fewer than 25 workers. there are other standards for who is eligible. a number of the eligible businesses are approximately 4 million. i do not know how many have availed themselves of it. there are 4 million who qualify. with respect to children, they are the first to receive the benefit of not being denied coverage.
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insurance companies cannot deny coverage just because someone has as much or diabetes. ultimately that its extended to adults in 2014. there is a reinsurance available for early retirees between the age of 55 and 64, enabling more and more companies to continue to provide coverage for their early retirees. community health centers have received a significant amount of money for the affordable care act. the community health centers -- centers provided services to 18 million people will for this extra money was provided for it according to my friend at the national association for community health centers, they will be over the serve 29 million people this year. a very significant increase. already in effect is a prohibition on lifetime limits
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on insurance, so if someone has a catastrophic illness like cancer, gets into a bad accident, and no longer are subject to being bankrupted because they have to spend money totally out of pocket once they have reached a lifetime cap. insurance companies now cannot take away your coverage when you get sick. you had been paying your premiums all along, there have been a number of insurance companies that have descended policies -- recinded policies. that is no longer legal. i mention the prohibition on lifetime caps. we are moving toward increasing annual caps by 2014. there will be no annual caps as well. another area it is making sure
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that our premium dollars are used for our care rather than administration khost, marketing and advertising, and profit. now there is a so-called medical loss ratio requirement that at least 80% of the dollar must be spent on the provision of care. in a large plant, it is 85 cents on the dollar. i think that improves efficiency. and this law does not undertake price control. it does in sure that there is greater equity in premiums, and what i mean by greater equity, someone is not going to be charged more just because they have had some illness. what it does do as well is provide money to state insurance commissions so that they can
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review the proposed premium increases by an insurance company in their state. by and large, the of seen some significant results from this. in california, blue shield of california propose to increase premiums up to 59%, and after the insurance commission reviewed this proposal, they as blue shield of california to go back to the drawing board. the and now rescinded that proposed premium increase. they s and from blue cross to go back to the board. that 20% has been rescinded. again, they were told to go back
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to the drawing board and those increases are going to be modified. and the blue cross in california sought to increase of 39%. they were told to go back to the drawing board. they have now rescinded that increase of 39%. that is not to say that these insurance companies did not increase premiums. they did, but by a considerably lesser amount. the last thing i want to talk about is an area of where i am afraid our friends on both sides of the aisle talked too little about. as about expanding health-care coverage, especially for those who are uninsured. republicans as a general rule have not talked about this is a goal, clearly not a priority of the republican party. i would say democrats have talked about it as well because
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they want to focus the conversation on middle-class families, because that is politically the more effective thing to do. that said, in the last census count, there were 50.7 million americans who were uninsured. think about that, one at of six people in the population. this number is larger than the combined population of 25 states plus the district of columbia. obviously i am talking about the populist there. when the census bureau numbers come out in 2010, i expect the number will be hired just because of what happened to the economy. why is this occurring? before the affordable care act, we have seen and the steady erosion of employer-sponsored insurance.
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is still the primary way we are providing health care coverage. with a that was wise or an accident, i will leave for others to talk about. as the predominant way of providing coverage. in the year 2000, 64.2% of the population had employer- sponsored insurance. in 2009, it was 55.8%. we have seen a steady erosion. for those who can i get coverage that way, especially those of modest means, our safety net for so much of the population, medicaid, the children's health insurance programs, they really derive their basis of providing coverage from the 16th century elizabethan poor laws. what i mean by that, when england set up its welfare
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system, it said that it is not enough simply to be poor. you have to fit a deserving category. in 1935, when the social security act was passed, that is the system we created. in 1965, and medicaid was adopted, you still see the vestiges of that in terms of coverage today. we treat kids relatively ok as a result of the confluence of the medicaid program and insurance -- children's insurance program. but the adult population is treated very differently. as a result, though kids in virtually all the faces, are eligible for coverage if they are in a family with income less than 200% of poverty, a little over $37,000.
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median income eligibility standards in the 50 states for a three-person family is 62% of poverty, or under $11,500. in the number of states committee eligibility standards for safety and its coverage is shockingly low. arkansas, $3,150. alabama, $4,447. pennsylvania, $6,300. in four out of five states, if you are a non-parental adult, you are ineligible for any coverage your respective of income. the affordable care at make some significant progress once and for all in expanding coverage. it does so by providing some direct help to people with incomes above four under% of poverty.
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-- above 400% of poverty. they anticipate that 32 million people who do not have coverage now will receive it. it is possible that there will be more. i think that is a matter for which all of us should rejoice. thank you. >> thank you very much for the chance to be here today. there is in the irma's amount that has been said about the affordable care act -- an enormous amount that has been said about the affordable care act. a lot by me. i am tired of hearing myself talk about it, to be honest.
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i do want to think kato for having us and especially could be debt and run for joining into the discussion. -- i do want to thank cato for having us and especially cut the debt kavita and ron --especially kavita and ron. that was a bipartisan objective. what happened in between ended up as a highly partisan activity and given me one more piece of evidence that all partisan law ends up being bad. those laws are never infused by
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help and therefore they are not as good. they need to become objects for overturning as we've seen the affordable care act become among republicans. it does not serve a country that needs a durable health care system. i expect us to be back in the future discussing either the demise of the affordable care act, which i view is a real possibility, or an alternative that would be built upon his shaky foundation. what other problems of that foundation? michael asked me to talk about the affordable care at from the perspective of budgets, labor market, any common policy. there i think it is indeed a dramatically dangerous piece of legislation and that the wrong point in our history. i hope it is well understood
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that the federal government's budget is on the road to hell. there's no polite way to describe why the largest economy has put this on a trajectory for a debt crisis where we will knowingly drive ourselves to the place to have trillion dollar deficits, within the next 10 years. it is for that reason mystifying to me with the very prosperity and freedom that is built on the economy is put their risk by taking a decisive step in the wrong direction and a time when we already have such deep problems. there is no way to pretend that the affordable care act will improve the government's fiscal or budgetary condition. it sets up two and new entitlement spending programs,
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an insurance subsidy for those in the exchange's and a long tear -- long care -- long-term care program. tax revenues will not grow 80% at year as far as the eye can see. the economy will not grow that much. there will be no way they can keep up with spending demands. the budget will deteriorate, not improve. you can pay for that over with a variety of budgetary gimmicks and tricks over the 10-year budget window, and has been done with the passage of this legislation. you can count on savings never appearing in the medicare program because we have not reformed did. its cost will be the same, the providers will need the same money, or we would just not cover the beneficiaries.
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you simply cannot pretend that the class act will collect money inside the budget window and not pay out benefits pass the budget window. you cannot leave that the annual appropriations necessary to run the program. you cannot do all the things that they did and somehow trick people into believing this is a good step from a budgetary point of view. and that is if you take it at face value. i think there are enormous risks that have been under appreciated. number one, the notion that we will give to one family them makes about $59,000 $7,000 in the subsidy, because their employer has not offer them insurance, and we can find in identical family that makes the same money and gets nothing because their employer offers insurance. it is a non fairness of such mammoth proportions that it will
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not survive in this country. congress when faced with this grows message will say, oh, my god, we have to fix this, how could this happen? but we have seen that movie. and they will fix it by giving everyone the money. and then we will exploding cost. we could end up with more people and exchanges because employers can do arithmetic. congress may net but employers can. they understand that there is so much taxpayer money on the table and those exchanges that it is entirely possible for them to drop their coverage, particularly for people under 300,000 -- on the printer% of the poverty line -- people under 300% of the poverty line.
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we have put so much money on the table that it is a no-brainer for employers and workers to agree that everyone should go into the exchanges. if you take the population eligible for that kind of bargain and assume that not of them -- not all of them do it, you can double the costs easily. the reason is that we have somehow trick ourselves into pretending that you can say that any interest that cost more than 10% of your income is unaffordable when as a nation we spend over 20 cents of every dollar on health care. they cannot both be true. this is a budgetary disaster of the first order. we may want to expand coverage. but we have to genuinely thinks the delivery system, control the cost, and they cover first
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strategy was a mistake. it covers people on paper, but the moment we put them into the system and the providers are over one, there is no way that congress can go back and fix the way you're doing your business. they will say, not a chance. we will not see those improvements and the system will collapse and its own budgetary wait. their future will consist in the good news scenario, high taxes are high interest rates are both. that is not a growth strategy. that is the position we find ourselves in. it takes the soon to be one- fifth of the economy in health care that imposes fees and taxes, mandates on employers, on
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individuals, on providers of all sorts, one states -- those taxes, mandates, and regulations are not pro-growth strategies. this is not a way to have the sector be more efficient and contribute to the economy. it is in many ways in the wrong direction. i worry a lot about this at a point when it is clear that the most important friday in the united states has to be growth. when we are faced with clear choices between other social roles and growth, growth has to trump because we have too many people out of work and we will not be able to employ them. we have an anti-growth part of the bill. this generally represents a big missed opportunity. ago is true both in the sense of its ultimate partisanship, but
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also at the fundamental level. we came into this with a need to reform medicare. medicare is the problem from the budget. in view. it is a silo's service from, and we did not fix medicare. we need to fix medicaid. it is a terrible system, had disservice to american serenity. they cannot get access, they show up in the emergency rules -- emergency room spirit -- emergency room. we have expanded it on paper and missed the real problem. i would love to have stood here on the first and a misery of a bipartisan health care bill that took care of the cost problem
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and enhance the process of coverage in the analysis. instead, we celebrate the anniversary of something that represents another missed opportunity, a dangerous step from economic and budgetary points of view, and cannot survive. the appeal, replace, or simply throw off our hands and pray, it will not be this way in the future. thank you. >> thank you, doug, kavita, and ron. i will take a couple of requests. wait until the microphone gets to you after i called you. please let us know where you are from, what your name is, and try to keep it to questions. let's try to keep the commentary to a bare minimum. i see one and up the one hand
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out. --i see one hand of a. >> i had a question for mr. holtz-eakin. i've heard it repeated repeatedly that insurers will see it is in the best interest to drop coverage. my question is, why are they not doing it now when there is no penalty to stand in their way? why is the assumption that they will do it in the future? does that lead to reasoning that there is a deeper reason why employers offer coverage other than arithmetic? >> it is a good point. there are competing pressures. the one i described as one that is the your opportunity for those who are in relatively low tax brackets, to make that a financial calculation.
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for hire and come in comes, there is a different subsidy, excluding coverage from taxes. they are competing in if you have to offer, you have offered to every one. the designer to take the federal subsidy for higher-income people, it will force them to not take it for the low-income workers. that will hold. that is the logic. i understand the logic. we have never before tested that on the scale we are about to. we know that every company when they began doing their view diligence -- due diligence, when they found out things to change, they've come back with the same conclusion. and then we get to the third
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factor, how do you attract employees? at the moment you competed on the basis of wages and that some point, someone is going to go. the whole industry will jump in because they will be on a different level playing field, not competing -- because everyone is going to get health insurance, the only question is how. it is a series of side risk because there is not a downside risk. >> the gentleman on the aisle. ron or kavita, did you have anything to add? >> i would say that certainly larger employers are loath to leave the health coverage efforts that they have been providing for their workers.
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it is a major recruitment device. i think it is a tougher question for smaller businesses. smaller businesses, however, one of the benefits they are going to receive from the affordable , they will be able to join these exchanges, these marketplaces. they will be old -- able to pull together with other businesses and get a better deal because they will be larger number of people in those pools. if i had to guess -- we are predicting and we do not know -- i think there will be little movement on the part of large businesses in terms of moving away from health care coverage. i would think for small businesses, it will be a businesses, it will be a significant number of

Today in Washington
CSPAN March 22, 2011 2:00am-6:00am EDT

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